“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” In no career is this quote more relevant than in social work. It’s an amazing way to help people in need. If this is the path you want to pursue, then congratulations! On the other hand, you may be facing a whole new set of problems. Exactly how do you become a social worker?

Deciding on a general career invites new questions about how to get from where you are to where you want to be, and about where you want to be within your chosen line of work. We think we can help you with these questions, or at least help you see how you can find the answers yourself.

Clinical vs. non-clinical

Let’s start by outlining the various types of social work you can do. There are two major categories of social work, each with a lot of different career paths within them.

Clinical social work will have you dealing with some of the same types of issues as psychologists and therapists, such as behavioral issues, emotional issues, and more. Social workers tackle these problems in the context of society, so a clinical social worker is not exactly the same as a psychologist.

Non-clinical social work, on the other hand, may involve more coordinating and administration tasks. Non-clinical social work may mean helping refugees organize their lives in a new country, for instance, or it may mean helping underprivileged people apply for jobs to improve their circumstances.

Getting a job

To get a job in social work, you’ll have to get an undergraduate degree in social work or a related field. Getting a master’s degree is a smart move, too. Many jobs, including a lot of the ones that you’re likely to be most interested in, require one. A social work doctorate will generally make you an even more attractive job candidate for non-clinical work, but it’s particularly important if you want to do clinical work.

Specific to you

This is all great information, but the question remains: what should you do? Well, that’s up to you. However, we have some suggestions as to how you might begin your self-examination. For starters, you’d be wise to do some more research. The internet is full of useful information about social work careers, and you’ll likely find news reports of social workers making a difference in ways that might inspire you. And have you considered reading news and perspective sites that focus entirely on social work?

With this research as background, you may want to start narrowing your options down a bit. From there, it would be a good idea to reach out to professionals who are working in those areas right now. You may be surprised just how willing people are to answer questions and offer guidance! You may even gain a mentor as you figure out your career path.